As 65-year-old Vietnam veteran Gary Dixon has said,
I hurt, and I hurt from something I got fighting for my country. – Gary Dixon – Veteran
Exposed to Agent Orange and significant emotional trauma during his tour of duty in Vietnam, Dixon readily admits to smoking marijuana to combat the physical and emotional pain he experiences. As he is also battling stage four lung cancer, he has no intention on ceasing his use of the plant.
Dixon resides in Kansas, where there is no medical marijuana legislation place. But he now faces an additional fight with the VA, who requires him to submit a urine sample and sign an opiate consent form. Upon testing positive for marijuana, Dixon was denied his prescriptions. This was a routine trip to the VA for Dixon and his wife Debbie, who make the trek to Topeka so he can attend his stroke group therapy and receive his pain medications. This week they left empty handed.
The issue of whether or not veterans should be denied their prescriptions for their marijuana use—including states where medical marijuana is legal—is receiving increased attention nationwide. Numerous veterans have found themselves involved in this change to the VA guidelines, even in states where the plant has been legalized for medicinal purposes.
Dr. Daniel Cline, chief of ambulance with the Kansas VA, was quoted as saying, “If you take marijuana and you take pain medication, these are two things that decrease your alertness.”
As veterans groups lobby against this change to policy in states which allow for the medicinal use of marijuana, Dixon plans on continuing his use of marijuana and attempting to find the hundreds of dollars necessary to purchase the prescriptions. “I’ve always had marijuana in my blood and will continue to have it in my blood,” concluded Dixon.